Thursday 31 January 2013

Can a goat smile?

Odd question you may think.  Smiling is often considered a uniquely human trait, but I am convinced that our animals do actually smile when they are happy and content.

Judge for yourself ... A quick pic of our lovely GinnyPink taken yesterday afternoon.  I reckon that's about as close to a goatie smile as you're ever going to get:

Or how about this one - a lovely picture of Marlin taken by Sue Clinker:
Or, with a slight variation, the toothy grin as demonstrated by dear old Thelma goat:

And of course, they can be rude as well.  This picture of our dear departed Cherokee was snapped by David some years ago.  What excellent timing though, just as Cherry stuck his tongue out!

Tuesday 29 January 2013

The Mac is back!

My little chap Daramac is back from his Xmas holidays with Auntie Mary at the seaside!  Judging by the number of stud fees that he has earned on his little sojourn, he has been a busy boy.  But he is thrilled to be back with all his friends:

The girls were all very pleased to see him back again as he smelt rather good.  The boys, sensing a bit of competition, all gave him a bit of a friendly shove but they have all settled down together again quite happily.

And so, we are into the last month before the madness of kidding begins.  Some of those girls are getting very round now.  Poor Betty seems to have ballooned over the past few days:

Little Luna was struggling to find a comfortable position to lie in this morning:

And Elfie was spreading out quite nicely too:

Notice how that little back leg is sticking out to the right.  Normally, the girls tuck their legs underneath them when they lie down, but as they get heavily pregnant and uncomfortable, they flop down on their bellies and the little legs stick out to the side!

And the other problem, of course, is that those damn udders start to fill up again!  Girls that have been dry for months suddenly start to sprout udders again - Maggie's started to appear again yesterday, still with 4 weeks to go:

And it is very confusing for the young goatlings who have never had to deal with udders before.  Poor Takira had nothing last week and then suddenly this appeared ...

Makes you walk like John Wayne it does ...

And, more news of the most spoilt goat in Kent arrived this week.  Seems that young Toggy was out and about in the snow with his nice warm goat-coat on ..

A photo obviously taken from the warmth of a position inside the house!!

I am enjoying a relatively quiet week again this week, mainly because I am car-less.  My poor little (much-abused) van is off the road at the moment waiting for us to spend some pennies on rather a lot of bits required to get it through the MOT. 

David has got it jacked up in the corner of the tractor shed and keeps pulling bits off it.  Then he comes and waves something broken at me and complains about my driving standards.  Nothing to do with the fact that it's always overloaded and spends most of its miles bouncing along rough country roads full of potholes big enough to sink the Titanic.  Poor little van.  So, I'm driving the pickup at the moment which is nice and big and fun to drive but you need a small mortgage to fill it up with petrol.  So, in the interests of frugality, I'm trying to do as little driving as possible!

But life will start to get busy again next week as I have the first two vet students of the year arriving on Monday.  A bit early for kidding but we have lots of pre-kidding jobs lined up for them as well as a demonstration from our acupuncturing vet, Monica.  I'm hoping to get Michael to come and scan the last of the pregnant girls and Peter the vet is coming along to castrate the two young bull calves.  Then it's off to Hadlow on Wednesday evening to give a talk to their Rural Business Group. 

So that's this afternoon's task ... try to remember how to use Powerpoint .....

Monday 28 January 2013

A good job jobbed!

While it was cold and icy last week, David managed to muck out the easy half of the barn.  Getting in and out of the field to dump the muck is so much easier when the ground is frozen, and it also means that there is less mud left up the road for people to complain about!

Afterwards, it also means that the goats all tend to sleep on the 'clean' side of the barn as they have lots of fresh straw over there, even though the 'dirty' side is far warmer because of the muck underneath them.  So, the past couple of days have been a bit cosy as most people gathered over that side:

Keen to get the rest of the barn done, we took a chance on the weather staying dry today.  And it did.  Just.  Looking at those black clouds gathering, I would say that we are in for some serious wind and rain later on tonight!

So, after milking and feeding everyone this morning, we left the goats over the far side of the barn with full hayracks and set to work quickly taking out all the gates and other 'furniture' so that David has plenty of room to move the tractor around.

It's always a bit crowded on mucking out day, especially when noone is keen to go outside:

Not sure whose ear that is!

As you can see, many of the goats just stand about watching what is going on.  Some are busy at the hayracks - a novelty having extra ones in a different place to usual:

Some stand with their heads on their sister and just doze - Coye and Diddi:

Whilst others are keen not to miss anything.  After all, there may be a banana hidden somewhere.  Footsie.

Mindful of the weather, David grabs as much as he can on each run into the barn:

Then piles it into the trailer ready to go off to the field down the road:

Eventually, it is all done and the new straw spread. 

All those eager little faces just waiting for the gate to be opened:

The mad dash as everyone runs over to the 'clean' side of the barn.  And then it's bottoms up and heads down as they all start to rustle about to find the best bits of straw to eat!

They have a couple of hours to settle down now before milking and I expect that I when I return to the barn everyone will be comfy and snuggly with tums full of food!  Not a bad life is it?

Saturday 26 January 2013

The story of 'The Old One'

I do enjoy a nice goat story and was pleased to find one today.  So, if you're sitting comfortably, I shall begin ....  Enjoy.

The young couple had made their usual hurried, pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small herd of goats.  The farm had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine which topped the hill behind the farm and, through the years, had become a talisman to the old man and his wife and a landmark in the countryside.

The old folks no longer showed their goats, for the years had taken their toll, but they sold a little milk and a few kids each year, and the goats were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day's end.

Crossly, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks. 'Why do you not at least dispose of 'The Old One'?  She is no longer of use to you.  It's been years since you've had either kids or milk from her.  You should cut corners and save where you can.  Why do you keep her anyway?'  The old man looked down at his worn boot, scuffed at the barn floor and his arm stole defensively about The Old One's neck as he drew her to him and rubbed her gently behind the ears.  He replied softly 'We keep her because of love.  Only because of love.'

Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley.

And so it was that, because of the leavetaking, noone noticed the insulation smouldering on the frayed wires in the old barn.  Noone saw the first spark at all.  None but The Old One.

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay.  With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save his beloved goats.  But the flames were roaring now and the blazing heat drove him back.  He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking glowing ruins were left and the old man and his wife.  They thanked those who had come to their aid and the old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulder as he clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana.

Brokenly he whispered 'We have lost so much but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas.  Let us therefore climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair.  We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared.'

And so, he took her by the hand and helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his hand.  As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they looked up and gasped in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.  Seemingly every glorious brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine and it was aglow with heavenly candles.  And poised on its topmost bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass.  Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this.

Suddenly the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy as he pulled his wife forward.  There, beneath the tree was their Christmas gift.

Bedded down about The Old One close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.  At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the goats through it.  Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping daintily through the snow.  The kids were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling hungry flames and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits.  The milkers pressed uneasily against The Old One as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine.

And now, she lay among them and gazed at the faces of those she loved.  Her body was brittle with years but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift - because of love.  Only because of love.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

It's so quiet .. shhh ....

So there I was, just posting the last blog when I heard the characteristic sound of metal scraping tarmac.  Lo and behold!  David went past the window on his snow plough!!  Hurrah!  Only out to play for a few hours but better than nothing.

Monday morning was so white and quiet everywhere.  That's the main thing we love about snow - everyone stays at home and it is just so so quiet.  Most of the goaties stayed snuggled up indoors but brave Perdi goat went out for a little trot to see what was going on:

Perdi was dear old Betty's first kid - can you see the family resemblance??!

No?  Well, try these two pics ... Perdi on top and Betty below.

Same deep body, same grumpy face and same colour.  They both stand in the same way and they both stamp their little goatie feet in the miking parlour.

And we had some rather nice icicles hanging off the side of the parlour roof:

Most of the photos that I use in the blog are just quick snaps taken on my phone.  Occasionally, I have my digital camera with me at the right time but it's really not practical to carry it round when we are working with the goats.  The main point of the photos is to just give you some idea of what the goats are up to on a particular day.  They won't win any prizes for photography!

However, we do have a few lovely professional pics that were taken several years ago by the very talented Sue Clinker.  We have mentioned Sue before as she is an extremely good artist and was the lady responsible for drawing the picture of Ellie that we use in our dairy logo:
 Check out Sue's own blog at  to see more of her work but here's a few lovely photos of our own girls:

Sunday 20 January 2013

It's snowing!

At last - a decent amount of snow.  But still not enough to shake the cobwebs off the snow plough.  David sits and waits and watches the weather ... The snow is too wet apparently.  Not drifting and not stacking up enough to go out.  Hey ho ..

The Gracie Moos were pleased to get a huge bale for their breakfast this morning:

How big are those calves now?!  Never ceases to amaze me how quickly they grow.
The water bowls in the barn have been frozen solid for a few days now and so the milkers have enormous tubs of water in their pen.  The problem is always how to get water to the little men and the goatlings.  Buckets are not really practical as they need so many and, being goats, they have a habit of throwing them around or getting them stuck on their heads. 
So, David came up with an original idea ... when they have finished eating, fill their troughs full of water.  Worked like a treat!  In the troughs that don't have drain holes in the bottom anyway ..
Most of the female kids haven't seen snow before and so there was much excitement at the funny white stuff blowing around.  Fortunately, it wasn't blowing into their barn very much.  It seemed to amuse them to stand indoors in the warm and just watch it through the window!
But, you know what mad collie dogs are like!  So, Nell and Ben were out and about having lots of fun in the snow.
And of course, it's always important to look glamorous in the snow. 
I'm not really that wide - it's the 7 layers under the jacket that do it!!

Thursday 17 January 2013

Out and about in the sunshine

Another glorious sunny blue-sky day and as the ground is nice and hard at the moment, the goaties decided that they would venture outside to check that their field was still there.  So, there was a lot of standing about in the yard first of all, whilst everyone decided if they were brave enough to go any further. 

After all, you never know what might have happened in your field whilst you have been indoors for weeks watching the miserable rain fall out of the sky.

But eventually, many of them trotted off outside and, in true meerkat fashion, several ran straight up their 'mountain' to act as sentries:

If you squint, you can just about see two of the bravest goaties snuffling about in the snow in the distance!  And that's Max peering out from behind the mountain, to the left:

David has fitted the snow plough brackets to the front of the tractor just in case we get more of that white stuff tonight.  By the look of the forecast, it may just miss us ... we will see.  But, the goats were all very pushy and naughty this evening - always a sign that the weather is going to do something unusual.

Here's Chickweed and Meryl in a very unflattering position, trying to get the last bits of food out of one of the dustbins at milking time this evening.  Bottoms up girls!

Tuesday 15 January 2013

A light dusting

In the early hours of this morning, it looked like we might be in for a whole load of snow.  But, sadly for David the snow plough driver, it all came to nothing more than a light dusting.  Poor David!  Didn't get a chance to go out and play in the snow.

What a glorious morning it turned out to be though.  Cold, frosty and clear blue skies with sunshine.  My favourite!

And those wonderful little footprints that appear:
Fortunately, the snow didn't blow into the goat shed too much, with only a little falling through the central roof vents.  Those goats who went to bed near the centre of the barn and were too lazy to move ended up with a little snow on their bottoms.  Tammy goat ...
Whilst some of us who were curled up away from the snow were so comfy and fast asleep that we were completely oblivious to everyone else getting ready for milking.  JoJo goat ..
And whilst I had the camera handy today I thought it was about time for one of those random fungi shots.  I know how you like them ....  This marvellous specimen, about a foot across, is high up on the end of some old bales of straw being used as a wall on the side of a barn.